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NFL Adopts New Instant Replay Rules


The NFL adopted new instant replay rules Tuesday at Spring League Meetings in Charlotte, N.C., but they aren't nearly as sweeping as the replay changes the Ravens proposed and later withdrew.

Owners voted and approved the reorganization of rules that were already deemed reviewable, and added one new aspect of the game for coaches to challenge.

Previously, there was just a list of all the plays that are reviewable. Now there is a list of reviewable and non-reviewable plays. That is the reorganization. The purpose is to make the line between the two much clearer for officials, coaches, players and fans.

In Article 4, non-reviewable plays are limited to three categories: fouls (except those outlined in Article 5), spot of the ball and runner and six miscellaneous instances.

The reviewable plays outlined in Article 5 are as follows:

(a) Plays involving possession.

(b) Plays involving touching of either the ball or the ground.

(c) Plays governed by the goal line.

(d) Plays governed by the boundary lines.

(e) Plays governed by the line of scrimmage.

(f) Plays governed by the line to gain.

(g) Number of players on the field at the snap, even when a foul is not called.

(h) Game administration:

(1) Penalty enforcement.
(2) Proper down.
(3) Spot of a foul.
(4) Status of the game clock.

The only addition is the game administration (highlighted in red). The league wants to prevent administrative mistakes covering penalty enforcement, proper down, spot of a foul and status of the game clock.

Head Coach John Harbaugh has been passionate about the need to improve instant replay by expanding the plays that can be reviewed and making the rules that govern the system easier for everyone to understand.

Instead of adding to the list of 33 plays that can be reviewed, Baltimore proposed to change the language to allow all plays to be reviewed except eight deemed judgement calls. While there weren't nearly as many rules added as Harbaugh would like in the new system passed Tuesday, the NFL's new language should provide clarity.

The NFL and competition committee, of which General Manager Ozzie Newsome is a member, tabled the Ravens' original proposal in March. However, Baltimore reportedly withdrew the proposal days before the next round of discussions in Charlotte. Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay said, "We think there is some merit to the proposal."

"Our rule is just a simplification," Harbaugh said at the March owners meetings. "It makes it easier for the fans. It makes it easier for the officials, for the coaches."

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